R.I.P. James “The Rev” Sullivan

“Nightmare” by Avenged Sevenfold: 8/10

Logan Haffner

Please bare in mind that this album gets an 8/10 for people who actually like this kind of music. If you’re the kind of person who hates metal in all it’s forms, or even hard rock, don’t listen to this album based purely on what I say here like I know all of you people do and then get upset when it doesn’t compare to your precious Jossie and the Pussycats.

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of more hard core metal. I actually don’t like Metallica all that much, so if you’re like “OH YEAH, METALLICA,” because that’s what all you people totally say, you might not agree with me. Though it’s labeled as metal in iTunes and various Barnes & Noble music sections, I feel like Avenged Sevenfold’s later work (City of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare) is more along the lines of Rock, just super evil sounding. I don’t know. I’m not a music expert or anything, I just know where my brain goes when I think “METAL” and Avenged Sevenfold isn’t it.

Now that I’m done qualifying my review, I can say that this is my favorite of A7X’s albums. Though they all seem to have their moments, save for “City of Evil” which is kind of one album length moment, none of them have the full bodied depth and ability to consume you as “Nightmare” does. I tend to look at albums as a whole, so when there are weak points or songs that I generally skip, I don’t like the album as much. “Nightmare” is the only OFFICIAL concept album to be released by A7X, focusing around their deceased drummer, Jimmy Sullivan, who died of a drug overdose in December of 2009, shortly before recording and mixing began on the album.

The album plays like it should, talking mostly about times lost and how they wished they could have seen it coming. Tracks “Victim” and “Save Me” are particularly heartfelt for those who were keeping themselves informed of the Rev situation as it all went down. The album lacks A7X’s angry styles really affirmed in self titled, but it fits and it makes them sound less retarded. The album is depressing more than anything, but in a way that makes you feel for others, not sorry about yourself. Mark Portnoy, drummer for dream theater and Jimmy’s long-time idol, was invited on to record the drum parts for the few songs the Rev had not recorded already before he passed, and did his best to stay true to the style and charts the Rev had written.

Most notably, in my opinion, the track “Fiction,” first titled “Death” and renamed for one of Jimmy’s more popular nicknames as a kid, features drums and a vocal track recorded by the Rev three days before he died. The voice of Jimmy soaring over organ, cello and piano haunts you when you realize this was recorded less than 100 hours before he was found dead in his home, and wasn’t actually mixed into the track until months later.

The album concept reportedly went through many changes after the death of the Rev, song titles, lyrics and entire portions of songs altered to more suitably fit the new intent of the album: a monument to Jimmy Sullivan. The album serves this purpose well, and is well worth a listen for any who haven’t gotten around to it already (unlikely). My personal favorite track on the album, as emo as it sounds, is “Tonight the World Dies,” as it’s the single most haunting song I’ve heard in a long time, save for Tori Amos’ “Carnival.”

For those who don’t like A7X as it is, I don’t expect this album to change your mind on that. They’re still Avenged Sevenfold, even if a bit less obsessed with evil and hate. If you were on the fence about them, this may be the shove you need to really respect them as musicians. If you love them, you’ve probably already heard or even purchased the album, so I suppose this review really caters only to a small demographic of people; those who think A7X is a-okay. Now that I write that out and let it really sink it, it makes me question why I wrote this review. Huh.

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